One Step, But Many More Needed to Fully Support Tribal Sovereignty

NCRP released the following statement online and our social media platforms celebrating the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Brackeen v. Haaland that upholds 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. (ICWA). Native Americans in Philanthropy, the Native American Rights Fund and the Protect ICWA Campaign are among a number of other partners that released statements hailing the 7-2 decision.

Today marks a major win for tribal sovereignty and reproductive justice! SCTOUS ruled in favor of the Indian Child Welfare Act, upholding the federal law that was passed in 1978 to protect Indigenous children from the states attempts to remove them from their homes and eliminate their tribal connections.

It is essential to uplift the hard work happening on the ground to disrupt the historical and modern efforts to separate families through assimilation tactics. Specifically, the 497 Tribal Nations, 62 Native organizations, and many reproductive justice, child welfare, and adoption organizations, and that signed on to the 21 briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of upholding ICWA.

We celebrate this win at the same time knowing that the work doesn’t stop here. The fight for tribal sovereignty is constant, and those committed to obstructing tribal sovereignty continue to be well organized and funded in their attempts.

We call on our partners and counterparts in the sector to be responsive at this moment, make radical, transformative investments in the organizers on the ground leading this work, and inform yourselves on tribal sovereignty.

Remember that those working to hinder tribal sovereignty rely on these disturbing child removal tactics, which give corporations more latitude for destructive energy and mineral exploitation in Indigenous lands and territories. The way these corporate land theft strategies have been wielded against ICWA has been destructive, inflicting all types of reproductive harm, coercion and gendered violence upon tribal communities. All this is happening while Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people continue to be taken away from their families and communities because of the murdered and missing Indigenous people’s crisis.

We also know that Native tribes, families and lands precede this country’s current borders. Indigenous people following the same migration paths used for centuries are treated as political pawns at best, and face traumatic separation from their families at worst. Migrants face extreme cruelty by way of policy and limited access to seeking legal asylum. If they are granted entry into the U.S. at all, their existence is erased upon arrival, and their stories are silenced. These tactics, which cause systemic harm to migrating and immigrant populations alike, date as far back as the beginning of Indigenous assimilation projects and family regulation, especially within the philanthropic sector.

Funders, take this time to learn how you can center the sovereignty and dignity of tribal, indigenous, and migrating populations in your grantmaking. We are witnessing a truly cross-movement issue, one that should be funded and amplified well beyond what philanthropy has offered thus far.